Leading index forecasts moderate growth

A monthly index forecasting economic performance in the United States has increased, signaling moderate growth through early 2017.

The Conference Board reported that its Leading Economic Index rose two-tenths of a percent to 124.4 in September. Separate measures of current and past performance also advanced two-tenths of a percent.

“Overall, the strengths among the leading indicators are outweighing modest weaknesses in stock prices and the average workweek,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist with the Conference Board, a business research and membership association.

The Leading Index has increased 1.1 percent over the past six months, faster than a three-tenths of a percent gain over the six months before that.

For September, five of 10 indicators of the Leading Economic Index advanced, including building permits, consumer expectations for business conditions, interest rate spread and new orders for consumer goods and materials. A decrease in average weekly claims for unemployment insurance also bolstered the index. Average weekly manufacturing hours retreated, as did leading credit and new orders indexes, new orders for capital goods and stock prices.

The Coincident Economic Index, a measure of current conditions, climbed to 114.2 for an increase of  nine-tenths of  a percent over the past six months.

For September, all four indicators of the index advanced: industrial production, nonfarm payrolls, personal income and sales.

The Lagging Economic Index, a measure of past conditions, rose to 122.3. The index has increased four-tenths of a percent over the past three months.

For September, four of seven indicators of the index advanced, including consumer credit and the cost of labor and services. A decrease in the average duration of unemployment also pushed up the index. Commercial and industrial financing declined. Inventories and the average prime rate charged by banks held steady.